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Cases of COVID-19 are challenging our community in many ways. Evanston/Skokie residents are fighting to survive a global pandemic while facing potential illness or death of loved ones, diminishing employment opportunities, and food insecurity. At the same time, we are struggling to address disparities in health care and racial injustice.

The current pandemic increases the urgency of discussing with our loved ones what we want if we contract the coronavirus or other life-threatening disease. Depending upon our condition, what life-sustaining measures do we want? Who will speak for us in case we are unable to speak for ourselves?

Having conversations with our doctors and family members is critical to determine our end-of-life wishes and to ensure our loved ones can honor them in case we are not able to speak for ourselves.

Only 24% of Blacks and 29% of Latinos report having written advance directives, compared to 44% of whites, according to a study published in 2016 by the National Institute of Health. These alarming rates confirm the need for advance care planning for everyone. Differing rates by race/ethnicity reflect one more disparity that can influence one’s experience at the end of life.

The Evanston Action Team is a local volunteer arm of the national non-profit organization Compassion & Choices (C&C), which is dedicated to advocating for the expansion of end-of-life planning and options. We are committed to empowering people to get the care they want during a serious illness or at the end of life. Helping people plan well is a critical aspect of receiving the care that people want.

 

Free, online bilingual resources, including the End of Life Decision Guide and COVID-19 Toolkit are available on C&C’s website at www.compassionandchoices.org. These simple tools can help people discuss their wishes with family, friends, and healthcare providers.

We encourage community leaders to talk about end of life planning and hope that community members will feel free to contact the Evanston Action Team at missyfleming202@msn.com for more information.

Missy Fleming

Missy Fleming

Co-Chair of Compassion & Choices Evanston Action Team